Have you been planning your plot recently and found you’ve got extra room to fill?
How about sowing beans and peas right through the summer?
Most of my neighbouring plotholders grow a single crop of these tasty legumes each season and leave it at that. I used to do the same too, but then one year I was blessed with loads of spare French bean seeds.
I had a nice big plot at the time, so sowed them right through until late Summer, just for the fun of it. I had a pleasant surprise too, by way of a bumper crop of French beans that lasted for weeks and weeks.
Of course, I had to freeze the glut, but this was super for supplementing the Winter veg, and the following year I tried Summer sowings of other legumes.
So, if you’ve got bare soil and fancy some wintertime beans and peas, try regular sowings of these four veg…
I find broad beans exciting to sow, as typically they’re the first seeds I put in of the new year. They can be sown in February under cover or on a sunny windowsill for an early crop.
For those without greenhouses, the main sowing time is March and April. Spring sown plants will start cropping from June.
However, you can sow into May too, which will provide harvests through to the Autumn.
Keep a keen eye out for the blackfly though. Spray them away with hot, soapy water as soon as the little blighters appear.
Peas and mangetout
An early variety of peas, such as Kelvedon Wonder or X, can be sown under cover as early as February, but March is best. Germination in a greenhouse will be fairly quick and with good weather and growing conditions, the delicious pods can be picked in under 3 months.
If you’re sowing directly, try using cloches or an old black tarpaulin to warm the soil first. Peg one down for a week or so before you sow.
Once the weather warms up, you can continue to sow your earlies and maincrop (such as Onward) outside right through to July. Late summer sowings grow fast and are a great idea for freezer crops.
French beans are tender veg, so any sowings in April will need to be done in the greenhouse, ready to plant out when the chance of frost has passed towards the end of May.
However, don’t stop here. Whilst you’re planting out, sow another batch in pots or in the ground. These can live outside, and with a bit of luck, cropping will overlap your early beans.
Ignore the seed packets too, and try another sowing in July. French beans are incredibly productive, and a Summer sowing will fill your freezer for winter. I do this every year and heartily recommend it.
Like French beans, runners are tender so sow in May unless you’ve got a greenhouse. If you’re lucky enough to have one, sow towards the end of April in pots, and plant out in early June.
After this, you can carry on sowing well into July, whether in pots or direct.
Keep picking to ensure the beans continue to come and freeze any surplus. If your soil is fertile enough, they’ll be loads going spare!